As one of the longest running American sitcom and animated series and recipient of countless awards (including a 31 Primetime Emmys, 30 Annies, and a Peabody), there’s no denying that Simpsons is easily one of the most popular animated franchises all over the world. As a result, many of the interesting facts about the show are already common knowledge among fans. Still, there are bits of information that have slipped through the cracks and are still worth talking about. Here are 5 of them:
#5. Conan O’Brien Was The Runt of the Litter
With Conan O’Brien having a multimedia empire that is arguably as popular as the Simpsons in some circles, it’s understandable that most people already know that one of his first big breaks was getting hired as a full-time writer during the early season of The Simpsons, with most fans crediting him for the fan-favorite episode Marge vs. The Monorail.
However, what most fans don’t know is that Conan was considered the runt of the litter, and frequently treated as the office monkey. In The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History by Jon Orived, O’Brien himself admitted that he would pitch ideas in a very animated manner, using the characters’ voices thinking that it’s expected. He was only told much later on that nobody does it. Another writer admitted that Conan playing the part of the “nervous writer pitching a joke” amused everyone.
#4. The Writers’ Room is Extremely Boring
When most people think of the room where The Simpsons’ pool of creative staff brainstorm, the mental picture would be something akin to what Conan O’Brien revealed in the previous entry: a room full of wacky individuals doing ridiculous stuff and laughing at each other, but the reality is that a room full of Harvard-educated comedy writers tend to treat their brainstorming sessions as work, and they come there to work, not to laugh.
O’Brien himself revealed something that points to how boring the creative sessions are: a German film crew allegedly arrived one day in order to document the writing process, but did not return after the first day because all they ever saw was a bunch of writers sit for hours, quietly brainstorming a reaction line for Marge.
#3. The French Voice Actors for Homer and Marge are a Real Couple
Voice Artists Phillipe Peythieu and Veronique Augereau have been voicing Homer and Marge for a French audience, and if there’s some real life chemistry being detected by our friends from France, it’s because the two voice actors are happily married in real life. And what makes it relevant to the Simpsons is the fact that they met each other during auditions for the show in 1989, and got married in 2001.
#2. Maude Flanders Died Because of a Pay Dispute
In the Simpsons, regular characters usually get retired if the actor/actress providing the voice passed away, serving as a proper sendoff to the person. The exception to this is Maude Flanders, who passed away even though the voice actress Maggie Roswell is very much alive.
The reason for this is that the actress left the show due to a pay dispute – what she was getting for voicing Maude, Helen Lovejoy, and Miss Hoover simply was hardly enough to cover her airfare. The writers found it weird to have someone else voice Maude, and they taught it was silly if the character just kept silence, so they came up with one of the most significant storylines in the series.
It’s all well and good, though. Roswell and FOX have since come to a compromise, with Roswell being given permission to record her lines from her Denver home.
#1. Groening Wasn’t the Key Creative Driving Force Behind the Show
It’s common knowledge that Groening isn’t 100% responsible for the overall success of the show, and anybody who thinks that needs to do some research, but what is not commonly known is that the true driving force behind the overall feel of the show was TV producer and writer Sam Simon. Many of the key moves that led to The Simpsons being what it is today was because of Simon – from deciding to go for more down-to-earth feel (Groening wanted a more wacky, cartoony tone that had Marge revealing that she had rabbit ears under her beehive hair), to designing some of the more famous characters like Mr. Burns and Chief Wiggum, to key character decisions like having Smithers be gay and have the subject be treated with subtlety. Simon was also credited for hiring majority of the show’s most talented writers.
However, the sheer disconnect between Simon and Groening’s approaches led to frequent conflicts, until Simon had to walk away from the show. But don’t be sad for him, because he was able to negotiate a deal that would earn him millions of dollars annually for that short time he was part of the show. Feel sad for him because at the age of 58, he was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer and given 3 to 6 months to live. And then be happy that the world gave Sam Simon to us because when he passed away earlier this year, he left his fortune to various charities.